“What You Intended for Harm”

Written by Cynthia Yanof
Published on April 09, 2019

If your days are anything like mine, time seems to be moving at lightning speed as spring kicks in and the end of school is in sight. So, I’ll be brief and cut to the chase.  

I was reading about Joseph this week in the book of Genesis, and there was one particular verse that completely spoke to me.

But to get the point, we need a quick review of Joseph’s life.

Joseph’s life (CliffNotes version)

This is a significantly less-than-theological overview of Joseph’s life, but here’s a little background from Genesis 37–50:

  • Joseph was the favorite child.
  • His brothers were jealous and sold him into slavery.
  • The Lord’s favor landed him a high position in Potiphar’s house.
  • Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce Joseph, then lied, which landed him in prison.
  • Joseph’s dream-interpreting skills fast-passed him from jail to Pharaoh’s right-hand man.
  • A massive famine sent Joseph’s brothers to Egypt (specifically to Joseph) to look for food.
  • Joseph’s brothers asked him for forgiveness because they were afraid of his retaliation.

Key verse alert!  

When Joseph’s brothers ask for forgiveness, Joseph shows complete grace toward them and responds, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

That’s some good stuff there.  

Perspective matters

Here’s a guy who has been separated from his family and sold into slavery in a foreign country. Then, just when things even slightly start looking up, he’s falsely accused of a crime and imprisoned.  

This was anything but an easy road God had Joseph traveling; however, it says throughout the verses that the Lord showed favor on Joseph. Favor?

Personally, I prefer God’s favor when it looks like blessings, safety, and provision. Amen?  

But Joseph was able to show grace and forgiveness to his brothers because he had God’s perspective. Despite his brothers’ attempts to cause him harm, God had bigger plans to use his life for kingdom work and to ultimately save an entire nation from starvation.  

Joseph rightly understood that nobody could thwart the plans of God, even if their intentions were harmful. Because of that perspective, Joseph was focused on the privilege of being used by God rather than the difficulties in the journey.  

Trust God’s favor  

Where are you facing hard places in life? Parenting? Marriage? Finances?

Where are your kids struggling, and you can’t fix it?

Are there people around you who need your forgiveness? Situations where grace needs to be extended?  

Joseph had no way of knowing God’s ultimate plan as he walked hard roads. But he trusted God’s favor—even when it looked anything like it. He also knew from experience that, even if God didn’t fix it, he undoubtedly would use it!

Do we believe that?

Are there places we need to settle in with a bigger perspective and trust God’s ultimate plan?  

Take a minute to pray that God will use the hard spots in your life for his ultimate glory. Remind yourself that, even if you can’t see his bigger plan at the moment, you live in favor because you are his child.

And as we raise our kids and see them struggle, think of Joseph. God didn’t make his road easy, but he made it significant. Let’s take a break from trying to fix their problems and remind them that God can take obstacles—even those intended for harm—and use them for good.

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Cynthia Yanof

Cynthia is a wife, mother, podcaster, blogger, and everyday girl who is committed to not taking herself too seriously. She hosts the popular MESSmerized podcast, and spends her days laughing, parenting, and praying for her family to chase after their God-sized dreams. Her first book, Life is Messy, God is Good, is available for pre-order now on Amazon! 

Read more about Cynthia

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